As soon as you pull in to Opelousas, the smell just hits you.
But it’s not a bad smell. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. To find the source of the delicious smell, all you have to do to is follow the traffic
Of course, the scent is carried by the wind, so I didn’t want to push my luck.
By following that delicious fried smell, we ended up meeting Ryan Lagrange, the man who oversees one of Opelousas’ most popular spots.
“It’s been around a while since the late 70s,” says Lagrange. “Almost 40 years.”
Serving up fried chicken since 1977, Mama’s Fried Chicken has been in the Lagrange family for the last three generations.
“We’ve been taught by some of the best, that’s been proven,” says Lagrange of the family recipe. “We learned their ways and we’re just carrying it on.”
His grandfather helped his mom get the business off the ground along with his aunt. “Between her and my Aunt, we like to think of them as the Mamma’s because they’ve been doing it for so long,” says Lagrange.
That experience definitely makes a difference. Like clockwork during the lunchtime rush, the chicken is lined up, battered and fried, before being served to a hungry crowd.
And if you’re hoping for more than the two locations, you’re out of luck.
The Lagrange’s are happy with what they have and are honored to be sitting in the center of Opelousas and serving both newcomers and regulars.
Lagrange says those customers have become life-long friends. “You know them by name and you talk about family and work, everything.”
It’s the customer interactions and continued service that Lagrange hopes will build upon the legacy that his family has left for him.
“I had many years of my parents doing that, and I was able to step up to that and make it even better,” says Lagrange.
It’s a legacy built on fried chicken, whose scent greets you at the gates of the town and makes you feel at home.